I, as probably many others, was looking forward reading "the design of design." I had pre-ordered it as soon as I knew I could and read it soon after it arrived. Unfortunately, the book disappointed me somewhat. It is not that it doesn't have insights... it does! It is not that it is written badly... it isn't! It is that most of the insights and examples are similar or the same as the Mythical Man-Month. Next to that, Fred Brooks doesn't seem to have any newer experiences managing software projects than the OS360 project :( The book is still worth reading, but it definitively isn't as useful as the Mythical Man Month (which with every work of Fred Brooks will be compared).
The book contains six parts and is about 400 pages thick. The first part of the book called "Models of Designing" dives (again) in the Waterfall Model and explains that it doesn't work, cannot work, and has never ever worked. He compares the Waterfall model to the Rational Model of design (from Simon) which has been criticized as being overly simplistic. Brooks still spends about 50 pages diving in Waterfall model and concludes this with: "The waterfall model is wrong and harmful; we must outgrow it"
The second part is about collaboration and tele-collaboration. To me, this was the weakest part of the book. In this part, Brooks argues that a good design always comes from one designer and cannot be developed by a group or a team. This is contrary to my own experiences and also, according to his notes, contrary to some of the reviewers experiences. Yet he keeps stressing this point throughout his book. The subject of tele-collaboration was covered only minimally.
The third part is probably the best part of the book and names design perspectives. Each chapter is a separate essay about one aspect of design. I especially enjoyed chapter 13 where Brooks argues we'll need more examplars of good software developers we can build on. Good design is build on good examples, but in software development... good examples are rarely studied (even though they are nowadays frequently Open Sourced)
The fourth and most of the sixth part of the book were uninteresting to me. The fourth part discusses a design that Brooks made with his team to design a dream system for architects for designing houses. It was mainly a description of the design decisions he made. Chapter six consists of case studies. Most of these case studies are Brooks amateur (physical) architecture studies where he, in he free time, extended his house and build a beach house. The cases aren't strongly linked to the design perspectives and design model he described earlier and it made them rather uninteresting to me (a software developer first). Chapter six also has cases about the IBM 360 system and operating system. I was more interested in these chapters, especially from a historical perspective. (Brooks his beach house might be beautiful, it had no impact on the world other than Family Brooks' enjoyable life at the beach).
The fifth part is short and names Great Designers. It contains two chapter "Great Designs come from Great Designers" and "Where do Great Designers Come From?". I enjoyed these chapters as a reminder of the impact of people and talent on the result of a project. And the question, which is unfortunately not a common discussion, how to actually teach great design (which he then links back to the examplars).
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Design of Design, yet I expected more. I was particularly disappointed by the old-ness (and perhaps obsoleteness) of the examples. Nearly all examples came again from the IBM 360 project. As programming language examples with a good design, Brooks doesn't talk about Ruby or Haskell... no he mentions APL. There is no example about modern design (in software that is) or any suggestion that Fred Brooks has been involved in a software development project after the IBM 360 project. This did not make his writing less entertaining, nor his insights less insightful, yet... I had expected more. Oh, and the case studies about his amateur architecture projects could probably be skipped.
Anyways, as mentioned, I still enjoyed reading it. The writing was good and the lessons were still valid. I thought of rating it 3 or 4 stars and decided to still go with a 4 star rating. However, if you are unfamiliar with Fred Brooks work, I'd recommend to read "The Mythical Man Month" instead.